WICKER PARK — Residents of a quiet block in Wicker Park are furious after they were awakened in the wee hours of the morning Monday by a police siren and bullhorn to move their cars for a television filming crew.
A 46-year-old mother of three who lives in the 1500 block of North Elk Grove Avenue said she "thought it was an air raid," but the cause for the commotion was actually a new half-hour comedy series, "Sirens."
After reparking her car, the woman, who asked not be named, fired off an angry email at 2:23 a.m. to a staffer in Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) office and the Chicago Film Office.
"We just got back inside my home from having to move our cars because a police squad came down the street at approximately 1:40 a.m. blasting their siren and announcing that all cars on Elk Grove must be moved or will be ticketed and towed. When we came out, the officer told us it was for filming," the resident wrote.
Antonio Osborne, a location assistant for "Sirens," a TV show that began filming in the area last month, confirmed Monday that he called police to the block after arriving to work at 12:30 a.m. and seeing that "cars were still on" Elk Grove Avenue.
Osborne said no-parking signs were tied to trees on Friday warning residents the street was going to be used by the film crew.
"The crews needed to use the street for trucks. We wanted to give cars one last chance," Osborne said of the police announcement.
Osborne said the 1500 block of North Elk Grove will be used to park trucks that will take furniture from four area homes that were used to film scenes for "Sirens."
The homes need to be "undressed" and returned to their original state, Osborne said.
Osborne said "no cars were towed" due to the police efforts to notify residents.
The resident said she was one of about a dozen people outside moving their cars at 2 a.m. and that "the cops were very apologetic."
While the resident claims there were no new notices posted along the street giving warning, Osborne pointed a reporter to several pink fliers warning residents of parking restrictions on both sides of Elk Grove Avenue from Honore to 1513 N. Elk Grove Ave. as well as the entire block of Honore between Milwaukee and Elk Grove avenues.
The pink signs Osborne pointed to, however, were on Wicker Park Avenue, not the 1500 block of Elk Grove Avenue. There were several "no-parking" signs tied to trees on the 1500 block of North Elk Grove Avenue Monday.
Calling the wake-up "outrageous and inexcusable," the resident said she "wants to know who dropped the ball that police officers have to wake an entire neighborhood, including the elderly and children."
A police spokesman was made aware of the incident by DNAinfo.com Chicago but was not able to immediately comment. Matt Bailey, a spokesman for Moreno, said he needed more detail from the Chicago Film Office before commenting further.
Rich Moskal, head of the Chicago Film Office, was not immediately available for comment.
Another neighbor Regina Burnett, 34, said she was awoken at 1:17 a.m. after hearing three sirens and texted a neighbor.
"I couldn't believe it. They sent me in a panic. I couldn't understand what they were saying on the megaphone. I thought somebody was in the yard, or hiding out," Burnett said.
Her two sons, 3 and 1, were awake until 3 a.m., said Burnett, who had parked the family car in their garage.
"Most of the time it has been OK, until now," she said of area filming. "I would like to talk to whoever's in charge."
One of Burnett's neighbors had put a sign in the window: "Sirens (literally woke us up at 2 a.m.)"
Asked about the situation at an unrelated press event, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was unfamiliar with the incident but talked about filming as a "huge economic boom."
"The disruption of a specific neighborhood I have to look into," Emanuel said.
Around 12 p.m. Monday, Osborne said he went door to door apologizing to residents of the 1500 block of North Elk Grove Avenue.
Only one person answered the door from the 15 doors Osborne said he knocked on.
"It was a man, he said it was an inconvenience but he understood and appreciated the apology," Osborne said.
"Sirens" is a new USA Network series written by Denis Leary and Bob Fischer about EMTs.
Osborne said "Sirens" plans to leave Wicker Park on Monday after filming in a house in the 1400 block of North Wicker Park Avenue and head to Lincoln Park to continue filming there.
"Sirens" won't return to Wicker Park for filming until the end of the month, Osborne said.